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>Israel Faxx
>JN May 2, 1997, Vol. 5, Number 79

Mubarak, Assad Meet at Sharm

By Laurie Kassman (VOA-Cairo)

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Syrian Leader Hafez al-Assad met in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheik Thursday to discuss the crisis in the Middle East peace process. The summit is part of Mubarak's consultations with regional Arab leaders to see what can be done to get the process back on track.

The two leaders reviewed the latest crisis of the peace process, which was sparked by Israel's decision to build new Jewish homes in east Jerusalem. Both men reaffirmed their commitment to the peace process, but differed on the prospects for resuming talks soon. Mubarak called for patience, while Assad told reporters the doors to peace are closed for now because of Israel's policies.

Mubarak's meeting follows a quick trip last weekend to consult with leaders in several Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia. After his consultations, Mubarak still ruled-out a full-fledged Arab summit, for now. He has suggested that a smaller meeting between Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians could be held, but only if Israel's prime minister modifies his policies.

Mubarak acknowledged the key role of the US administration in getting the talks back on track and suggested US officials need more time to try to overcome the obstacles. The Palestinian-Israeli track has been stalled for several weeks over Israeli's settlement policies. Syrian-Israeli negotiations have been frozen for more than a year now.

When Assad was asked about Israeli accusations of a Syrian military build-up, he responded by saying "those with nuclear weapons cannot blame others for maintaining their defense capabilities." His remarks come only a few days after Israeli defense officials accused Syria of producing lethal nerve gas. Earlier this year Israel also charged that Syria was reinforcing troops near the disputed Golan Heights.

Ross Returning to Middle East

By Jim Randle (VOA-State Department)

US mediator Dennis Ross heads back to the Middle East early next week. The State Department says his goal is to get the peace process back on track.

State Department spokesman John Dinger says President Clinton and Secretary of State Albright are sending Ross back to the Middle East for more consultations with Palestinian Chairman Yasir Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Dinger says Ross will
emphasize that outsiders have done about all they can to help out.

"What one has to stress here is that the parties have to be prepared to take steps to re-energize the process." Dinger says the secretary of state has been making phone calls to the two sides to try to move things along as well.

It is the second trip to the Middle East in just four weeks for Ross. He was shuttling back and forth between meetings with Netanyahu and Arafat when a political scandal erupted in Israel, making progress difficult. The prime minister's government survived its political problems, and the State Department says it is time to renew efforts to revive the peace process.

Muslims Condemn Discrimination

By Ed Warner (VOA-Washington)

Incidents of discrimination against Muslims in America sharply increased last year, according to the second annual report of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The organization attributed much of the hostility to Muslims to their negative portrayal in the media and Hollywood films.

Muslims in the United States run into most of their difficulties in schools, the work place and airlines. That is the conclusion of a report by CAIR after receiving hundreds of complaints from Muslims around the country.

The report discusses close to 250 incidents of mistreatment of Muslims, ranging from job discrimination to school conflicts to police harassment. Often Muslim clothing is involved, particularly a woman's head covering.

Mohamed Nimer, director of the American-Muslim Research Center, cited a typical case. "A woman for example, calls and tells us that her resume as a school teacher looks fine. Her experience was very good. She sends her resume, and she gets very pleasant calls from principals. When they ask her to come for an interview, and they see her face to face with her religious dress, they turn her down."

The report shows 10 episodes of threats or harassment of Muslims following the crash of TWA Flight 800. An analysis indicated the word "Muslim" or "Arab" appeared in 138 wire service news reports of the tragedy, although there is no evidence whatsoever of any Muslim involvement.

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